Photography TAFE students were rewarded with a fun end-of-year assignment: a glamorous photoshoot at the Wollongong Botanic Garden.
Model Mel Watt arrived at the cactus garden on Friday, November 3, in a fluoro orange dress hired from the Arcadians Theatre in Corrimal which was styled with Dr Martens style boots.
Her hair and makeup was styled by Wollongong West TAFE students.
Accompanying Mel was 19-year-old Milo Gibson a photography student who held a camera by their side as they walked towards a group setting up the lights and equipment among the cacti.
The photoshoot was organised by Wollongong West TAFE photography teacher Andy Zakeli as a reward.
"The students have been working so hard on their assessments, and they've been creating such good work, and I wanted to push them to a real-life situation," Mr Zakeli said.
The students were inspired by American photographer Annie Lebovitz when staging photos. They had to contend with the weather, lighting, time frames and working with a model.
Milo Gibson said the photoshoot experience gives the students the tools and techniques to work in the industry.
"This course is trying to get us out in the open and dealing with situations and conditions that we can't always control like the light or subjects or backgrounds," they said.
The Warrawong resident loves the way photography allows you to be present in the moment and can almost be meditative.
"It's just such a beautiful way to stop and you have to notice everything in your surroundings," they said.
"[I think that's what I love about it, is just that it makes me feel connected to everything."
For Michael McDonald, the photoshoot was a step closer to his dream of becoming a studio photographer.
"I would love to do studio photography. Mainly do portraits, headshots, corporate headshots all that fun stuff and a bit of commercial stuff as well," he said.
On the day he said they learned about exposure in difficult environments and how to give accurate directions to a model.
"Learning what backgrounds work with different colours, and what backgrounds just don't work at all," he said.
"The background often can make or break a good photo."
As the students directed the photoshoot, nearby in the Wollongong Botanic Gardens actors and actresses rehearsed for the Shakespeare in the Garden - A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The photography students complete their diplomas in December 2023.
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